Dude Ranch Staff Page – People.

Organizational Chart:

Building and opening the Events Center and the wisdom of advancing years means that  this year we are making some really big changes to the “chain of command.” First, this means that we are creating three Manager positions. Among other things, they will be responsible for prying control from Ellen and Dan’s fingers – this means that Ellen and Dan will reduce the amount of meddling that they do to your job each day.  

Ellen doesn’t report to anyone

Dan, Front-of-the-House Manager and Events Manager report to Ellen.

Barn Manager and Facilities Manager report to Dan

All wranglers, including the Activities Wrangler and Facilities Wrangler report to Barn Manger (except when “loaned” to another Manager).

All kitchen and kangaroo staff report to Front-of-the-House Manager (except when “loaned” to another Manager).

Each staff member will be given a personal weekly schedule with assigned days off and assigned duties each day (such as feeding horses, scullery wench, rifle range master or campfire s’mores-maker, etc.). This weekly schedule will repeat each week, not changing EXCEPT

  • when Events Manager has last minute weddings/events booking,
  • a neighbor needs help with an emergency,
  • significant guest requirements arise (such as handicapped guests) or
  • staff members are added or removed from the schedule (we encourage a mid-season break for each of us).   

Before breakfast each morning, all Managers plus the Activities Wrangler will meet each morning for 5 minute stand-up meeting to confirm staff assignments. The Events manager does not have any staff at this time. Weddings and events are very high priority (to generate enough income to hire staff) and the Events Manager will use staff “loaned” from the Barn and House managers.  

Immediately after breakfast each manager then meets with her/his staff to confirm the day’s assignments.

Note well: one of the things that makes our ranch stand out from other ranches is our willingness to be as flexible as possible. The only thing that you can depend on around here is change. There will be days (such as when we have a severely handicapped guest, a neighbor in need or a last minute event booking) when your assignment may change three times!

This means that you will always be on a team, and that team is likely to change every day! If you require repetition, consistency, and/or lots of supervision, you will not be happy here.

Your packing list – what to bring. 

Other basic information and critically important articles you must know before you arrive.

Guide to the folks around here in no particular order (except the ghost is last)…

Dude Ranch Staff: Ellen & Dan

Dude Rancher Ellen and Dude Rancher Dan kiss

Dude Rancher Ellen and Dude Rancher Dan and Dude Ranch Dog, Draco kiss

E-mail: ride@sundancetrail.com

Position: Mainly Owners, but they do everything.

Comments: Ellen & Dan will be married for 42 years in May, and are parents of three children: Teresa, Gary & Peter. Most of their married life was spent in Michigan, but they also lived in Texas for a few years before buying the STR. They are both RN’s by training; Dan has been a home care & hospice administrator, Ellen is a Woman’s Health Nurse Practitioner.

Ellen is sometimes referred to as HMTRQ or just RQ for “Her Majesty the Ranch Queen.” Dan is referred to as the AO which stands for… well, never mind….


Advice to all male staff!

if you have been accepted into the summer 2018 staff please email Marisa (bumgardnermarisa@gmail.com) with your picture and a short bio so that everyone has a jump on introductions!

Name: Marisa Bumgardner

E-mail: bumgardnermarisa@gmail.com

Position: Barn Manager/Head Wrangler

Bio: I was born and raised in North Carolina and began riding at the age of seven. I competed in dressage and eventing throughout middle and high school, and rode for my university dressage team 2012-2015. I graduated Appalachian State University in May of 2017 with a B.S. in Sustainable Development. I came to Sundance the following week as a Children’s Wrangler and after a fun and exciting summer season, I decided to stay on as the Winter Wrangler. This summer I will be heading the barn and its staff of six wranglers. I can’t wait to meet everyone in May and hope to have another exhausting but unforgettable summer. Please feel free to email me anytime if you have questions or concerns before you arrive!

Name: Kursten Stang

E-mail: kurstenstang@yahoo.com

Position: Wrangler

Bio: I was born in North Carolina and grew up helping my cousins care for their personal horses. I taught myself how to ride but spent most of my time playing soccer. In college I began volunteering at a stable in Western NC called Windy Gap. I learned a lot there about trail riding and instructing children. I spent 15 months traveling in Portugal doing missionary work and exploring the country. When I came back to the states I decided to relocate to Colorado to work on a ranch. This will be my second season as a wrangler at Sundance and I can’t wait to make more memories and friendships this summer.

EDIT BY MARISA: Kursten has a rare disorder that we call RBF (Resting Bitch Face). I ask that new additions to the staff recognize her disability and befriend her anyways. She’s actually really nice, I swear.

Name: Halie Cunningham (Cleverbacon)

E-mail: cleverhalie0218@gmail.com

Position: Wrangler

Bio: I was (also) born and raised in North Carolina. I began riding horses when I was seven and the rest is history. In high school I was a working student at a farm where we evented in the summer and foxhunted in the winter. In college, I was on the dressage team at Appalachian State University. I’ve held many outdoor jobs in addition to farm work and riding. I’ve been a ski instructor, a farm hand and tour guide at an alpaca farm, and an environmental educator and recreation specialist for the U.S. National Whitewater Center and Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is will my first season at Sundance and I am very excited to meet and work with you all and discover what adventures await us

Name: Sarah Arens

E-mail: sarah.arens@gmail.com

Position: Wrangler

Bio: Hi there! My name is Sarah, I’m from Ohio, have lived there my entire life but am ready to explore the rest of the country. Am still in Ohio for the time being, in school at Hocking College for Equine Health. I started with horses when I was around seven years old, riding, mucking stalls, feeding, grooming, the lot. Decided to make it my career because it’s what I’m good at and what I love, and something that will make me happy in life. I am a people person, I love to relax with a good long book, or go out for karaoke and line dancing. Eventually want to travel to Ireland and Scotland, as well as New Zealand.

Name: Sarah Jones

E-mail: snjonesy@rams.colostate.edu

Position: Children’s Wrangler

Bio: Originally from Hershey, Pennsylvania, Sarah first started vacationing in Colorado with her family at age seven. Every summer they would spend two weeks in Colorado; the first week being in a different part of Colorado or Wyoming every summer, and the second week being at Sundance Trail Guest Ranch. From the first time Sarah visited the ranch she knew that as soon as she was 16 she wanted to work as a wrangler. Now at the age of 22, she is finally making that dream come true. After her memorable times in Colorado and here at Sundance, she decided to pursue a college degree at Colorado State University in Fish, Wildlife & Conservation Biology and will be graduating in May 2018. Along with her love for wildlife and natural resources, she has been riding and loving horses since she was 5 years old. She also enjoys camping, rock climbing, skiing, and pretty much anything outdoors!

Name: Matthew Galvas

E-mail: matthewgalvas@hotmail.com

Position: Maintenance/Facilities Wrangler

Bio: I was born in Michigan, but have lived in many other states to include New York, Alaska, Utah, New Mexico and am currently residing in North Carolina until I make the move to Colorado and Sundance Trail Guest Ranch. I love to travel and the only states I have left to visit are Hawaii and the New England states. I enjoy the outdoors and spending time with my dogs and combining the two of them whenever possible. My favorite store is Home Depot and I almost always have some kind of project going on or plans to start a new one. My limited experience with horses has been volunteering at a horse therapy non-profit which I absolutely loved and I am looking forward to learning much more about horses and riding. I am extremely excited to have such an amazing opportunity to work at Sundance Trail Guest Ranch and can’t wait to start!


Name: Bonnie Quiroga

E-mail: bonniequiroga@gmail.com

Position: Wedding & Events Manager

Bio: I was born in Florida and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  My family roots are in Alabama and I finished my education there.  Its true that they are 20 years behind the rest of the world and, no, I didn’t marry my first cousin.  But, I did get out as quickly as I could!  After school I moved to Galveston, Texas.  I have two grown children and one terrific grandson.  I retired after 32 years in the local judiciary and decided I needed to do something I love.  I was the cook at Sundance Trail for part of the 2017 summer and loved every minute of it.  (TIP:  Kursten’s RBF is temporarily corrected with homemade mac & cheese.)   I’m looking forward to 2018 ranch life and meeting all of the new staff.  Hope we all share lots of laughter!

BEWARE:  I have a habit (as Marisa can verify) of mothering the younger staff.  I will worry about you.  I will look out for you.  Can’t stop it, so just get over it.


Name: Jazzy Petersen

E-mail: petersenjessie62@gmail.com

Position: Breakfast Cook/Housekeeper

Bio: Hi my name is Jazzy. I am from Nebraska, raised in small farm town called Kimball. I was raised on a farm as the youngest child of eight in my family. Never did go to college for any of the things I’ve done, I started off cooking at age sixteen and have loved it since then. I have worked in kitchens all over the mountain including Sundance. Last summer I did some of the breakfast cooking and also prepwork for dinner. They call me a Jack of all trades person; I help everyone when I can. I can be a pain in the butt but life’s too boring to be normal, gotta enjoy with laughter and smiles and a little weirdness to from time to time!

My hobbies include camp fires, hiking and rock climbing. I also do paper quilling, go fishing once in awhile, and some photography. I enjoy coming up with new recipes for my cook book and watching the stars in the summer evenings.

I will be there for you and look after you as if you were my own kid. I don’t have kids but I’ve worked around many of them in my life. If you need someone to vent or just talk and visit I’m always there. I’ll make sure you eat well and get meals that you like. It is my passion and I am honored to continue my cooking for a great group for Ellen and Dan Morin and staff at Sundance Trail.

Looking forward to summer of 2018 see you all soon.

Name: Maggie O’Kelley

E-mail: maggieokelley6@gmail.com

Position: Kangaroo

Bio: I was born in Georgia in the small, two stoplight town of Monticello. Living where I did gave me the unique opportunity to enjoy both the small islands that dotted the coast and the mountains up North. If ever someone needs a hiking or fishing buddy, you can always count on me to tag along with my hammock in tow.

I’ve always loved teaching others in nontraditional settings. In the past, I worked at Charlie Elliott as a Summer camp counselor and seasonal naturalist, assisting children of all ages with shotgun safety classes, canoeing lessons, cave explorations, fishing, and a variety of other fun outdoor activities. On top of working with the kids, I also worked with eagles, owls, and hawks along with a variety of reptiles ranging from alligators to snakes. It was right after I worked at Charlie Elliott that an opportunity arose that allowed me to work on a farm where I tended to fifteen horses every day.  I had ridden casually on and off whenever I had an opportunity to, but this was an entirely new experience for me.

For almost four months, I prepped the feed, groomed, cleaned tack, and rode each day along with a variety of other tasks that included fence and yard

maintenance. I left to attend Georgia State University for another semester before transferring to Georgia College and State University where I am currently working towards my degree in Environmental Science. My latest hobbies include dancing, rock climbing, and wrestling. This will be my first time working at Sundance and I can’t wait to work with such an amazing group of individuals this Summer.


Dude Ranch Dogs: Draco & Roxie

E-mail: Just whistle

Bios: In case anyone was wondering who’s REALLY in charge around here…you’ll notice that Dan, Ellen, and Marisa get up multiple times during each meal/meeting to let the dogs in or out as they please. Prepare your emotional stamina to avoid feeding them the table scraps they will undoubtedly beg for. Both of these pups are huge lovers and fierce protectors of the ranch. They lead the way for all trail rides and hikes and love getting the attention of every guest that comes to visit us.

Dude Ranch Ghost Lady Katie

Dude Ranch Ghost Lady Katie

Dude Ranch Staff: Lady Catherine Moon

Name: Gratton Catherine Lawder Garton Moon, aka Lady Katie

E-mail: I am headless and therefore cannot read emails

Position: Ranch Ghost

Comments: You will be telling the Moon story every week – get familiar with it now!

Wrangler Stories